We’d been receiving emails from the peps, asking us to write something about the reunion we held last July 12-13 in Calamba, Laguna. So here it is, at last. And to start off, allow us to open this story with messages sent to us by two peps:
“Thanks a lot for a great weekend of fun at the reunion. Sure am happy to have spent time with all of you. Even for a moment I have once again experienced how it is to feel young and carefree. Love you all.”
That’s Keith dela Cruz, who texted us as soon as he reached home. And here’s Eddie Roberto writing us an email a day after the event:
“Congrats, guys. We made it again! I’m so proud of you. After all these years, we have proven once again that the unity is still there, na kahit saang lupalop man ng mundo naroon ang bawat isa sa atin ay nandun pa rin ang pagnanasa ng lahat na magkita-kita at alalahanin ang masasaya nating nakalipas. I just wish there would be another reunion like this in the future and I hope that it would be equally exciting and bigger than the one we just had. Sa lahat ng mga dumalo sa katatapos na reunion, I salute you all at mabuhay kayo! At doon sa mga hindi naman nakadalo, sana ay makadalo rin kayo sa susunod na reunion ng mga peps. God bless you and I love you, guys.”
The foregoing messages somehow sum up the thoughts shared by the classmates and teachers who attended the reunion. To them the celebration of our 30th year was indeed one resounding success.
Holding the class reunion was a product of quite a long process. It all started when a group of peps, meeting in 2005, decided to set up a website. Initiated by Lito Parungo and other class members, ldhs78.wordpress.com finally went online in August 2007. Keith dela Cruz and George Hizon were both positive about the site and agreed that it would be an effective vehicle to trace the peps. And the rest, as the cliché goes, is history.
If you have regularly followed the site, you already know for sure how everyone worked together in tracking down long-lost classmates and teachers. We found Rorie Quijano, who immediately offered her time (and house) to organize a meeting. Then came Remy Tuazon who immediately became part of the Site Team and assumed a leading role, together with Keith, in coordinating all the planned meetings and activities.
One after the other the peps started to be “resurrected”: Didi Espiritu, Larry Ramos, John Marcella, Ruby Rosa Gaviola, Gil Buan, Merle Salvador, Ronnie Gorgonio, Nitz Mercado, Jo Monte de Ramos, and husband-and-wife Jun Vigo and Zeny Cervantes. Thanks to the internet, we also got connected with those who are now based abroad: Dado Dizon (US), Eddie Roberto (Qatar), Eric Macatangay (Saudi Arabia), Renee dela Peña (UK), Pearly Jaramilla (Japan), Gil Monte de Ramos (Canada), Malu Ortiz (Canada), Yoly Mañalac (US) and Mario Mercado (Canada).
We were also able to know the location of a number of classmates: Rogelio del Prado (UAE), Laarni Canicula (US?), Mel Abas (US), Minerva Llabres (Laguna), and Buddy Ignacio (Bahrain). Unfortunately, we were not successful in linking up with them.
The following teachers were found and got invited to the reunion: Miss Amelia Mardo, Miss Rodelia Tangco, Mrs. Yoly Perez, Miss Beth Bustamante, Miss Lourdes Rosalita, Mrs. Aurora Torrijos and, of course, our class adviser Ma’am Fe Calope-Lomantas. Miss Tangco provided us with information about our other teachers but we failed to follow up on them.
A meeting, the very first in so many years, was held on January 5, 2008. This and the succeeding meetings firmed up the plans for the holding of a class reunion. While we knew that many of those abroad would not be able to travel to the Philippines, we nonetheless decided to go on with the reunion this year to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We just couldn’t let a milestone come to pass.
Thirteen peps attended the reunion: Lito, Didi, George, Keith, Eddie, Jo, Pearly (with daughter Kei, son Lloyd and niece Michelle), Remy (with husband Danny, daughter Dimple and sons Richard and Ron), Jun and Zeny (with daughters Zarah Jayne and Jonna Zayra), Gil (with wife Elsie and daughter Patnubay), John (with friend Kenneth), and Ruby (with husband Noel and son Keeno). Among the teachers, Ma’am Fe (with daughter Michelle), Ma’am Yoly and Ma’am Beth (with daughter Ivory) were present.
Ronnie, Nitz, Larry, Rorie, Merle and Eric were also expected to attend but failed to do so for various reasons. Same with Miss Rosalita, Mrs. Torrijos, Miss Tangco and Miss Mardo.
The reunion was held at Makiling Highlands, a popular resort in Calamba. We rented two swimming pools and several rooms to accommodate all those present. A catering service was also hired to take care of the food.
On the night of July 12 a program was held, which was hosted by Lito and Jo. A short prayer was led by Jo and the opening speeches were provided by Ma’am Fe, Ma’am Yoly and Ma’am Beth.
Because the reunion was about the peps, a Powerpoint presentation was prepared by George. Entitled “The Peps: Noon at Ngayon”, the presentation was a collection of old and new pictures of the IV-1 class. Lito gave an update on classmates who failed to join the reunion. Everyone was sorely missed.
The highlight of the evening was the life stories shared by those present. A farrago of emotions engulfed everyone while listening to the peps’ past struggles and the many sacrifices they had to go through to achieve their ambitions. Ma’am Fe even said it was a good thing that the children were there to listen to these inspiring, and at times heartrending, stories.
The session was also helpful in making everyone better understand one another. A question-and-answer portion followed every sharing.
Our class dancers, Jo and John, performed a ballroom dance number.
The program was capped by the singing of “Through the years”, our adopted reunion theme song, and “That’s what friends are for”, which was our theme in our 1988 reunion.
The drinking and videoke session lasted till the wee hours.
The second and last day was spent for swimming and more kwentuhans. And because we were not ready to part ways yet, the group decided to go to Ruby and Noel’s resthouse in Tagaytay to continue the program.
The group pulled a surprise on Ma’am Fe. In her opening speech the previous day, Ma’am mentioned about her active involvement in their Church in Bohol and how their parish priest was dissuading her from attending our class reunion because of the preparations Ma’am was busy leading for the upcoming town fiesta. To convince the priest to allow her, Ma’am told him she could ask her former students to donate to the fund for the repair of the Church convent.
We passed the hat during the reunion and managed to raise a total of P12,000, part of which came from the reunion fund. Ma’am Fe was in tears when she thanked everyone for this generosity. A roll of tissue paper was also passed around.
In assessing the reunion, the peps were one in saying it was a success, a resounding one at that. It was suggested that another get-together should be held in December to welcome all those abroad who will be arriving for the Christmas holiday. Everyone also agreed that more efforts should be exerted to track down all the other missing classmates.
Afterwards, everyone went to Max’s to have a merienda cena and another picture-taking session. Unlike the dormant Taal Volcano in the background, everyone was erupting into laughter while recalling not only the program of the previous day but also our high school days. A dog-barking showdown between George and Eddie brought down the house.
And as always, the trouble with hello is goodbye. While bidding adieu to one another, we promised to hold more activities in the future (which we actually did days after the reunion).
Our reunion theme was “Celebrating 30 years of friendship”, and here we are now already looking forward to celebrating our 31st, our 32nd, 33rd …
P.S. We would like to take this opportunity to thank those classmates who donated to the reunion fund despite their absence: Nitz, Dado, Yoly, Renee, and Malu.
[Please click link to view our reunion photos.]